Showing posts from September, 2017

Medical Brigades

Medical's a complicated and messy topic whether you are in El Salvador or the United States or probably just about any place in the world.  The disparity between what is available between one country and the next seems unfair.  The disparity between what is available to people with resources or insurance and people without resources or insurance seems unfair.  The sense of unfairness and awareness of disparities along with genuine desires to do good in the world drive people from the United States to organize mission groups to care for people in El Salvador. The topic of this story:  Medical Brigades. If you are a regular reader of my random stories, you know that healthcare in El Salvador is a topic about which I frequently write.  Search "medical" or any other healthcare type words, and dozens of stories will pop up.  I am not a professional in a medical field, but I have a 17-year history of walking with the Salvadoran people in the areas of health and ed

Just Click: 15 minutes in Santa Ana

"Hey, let's drive over to Santa Ana!" We were close to the city center.  Why not? We parked in front of the cathedral.  It amazes me that our micro driver always finds the very closest and most convenient parking spots.  We hopped out of the van:  15 minutes to walk around the town square, because you never know when you might get the chance to be in this particular beautiful place again. Love Life! Neo-gothic cathedral completed in 1913 Best parking spot, except for blocking the view Theater completed in 1910 City hall Doesn't this lamp post look like it could come to life?  

Lunch Time Banter and Safety Tips

I love lunch hour in El Salvador.  Yes, lunch HOUR. A group of us often gather in the conference room where the lunches are as varied as are the stories shared.  A couple of weeks ago we welcomed a new missionary to the office.  She had a little bit of an encounter on a bus earlier in the week, and so we started talking about the ways in which we navigate getting from place to place safely.  Here are a few gold nuggets from the conversation... On the theme of the wisdom of carrying a bit of money in your pocket:      One time I was on the bus, and a gang member got on and said, "Everyone has to pay $1.  We don't want to rob anyone so you are all in this together.  Everyone $1."        So we all got out our dollars.  This is why it's important to carry a little money in your pocket. You never want to have to dig around for a dollar if you need it.  The older lady next to me pulls out a 5 dollar bill.  I don't know if she didn't have a one or what.  So the

Off the Beaten Path: Museo de Ferrocarril

One of the core values we hold dear in our sister church relationship is the practice of doing tourist activities in El Salvador  together.    Visiting historic sites, parks, natural wonders and museums gives us the chance to learn about El Salvador together.  It's true that wherever we live, we often have neither the time, the interest nor the resources we need to "be tourists" in our own backyards, and often visitors in El Salvador have been to many more places in the country than their Salvadoran friends have. In our sistering situation, taking excursions together is especially important because our community is divided by boundaries.  Sections are controlled by different gang groups, and families are not able to cross boundaries from one sector to another.  It is very difficult to plan any kind of event in the church or in the community in which everyone can participate, but with careful organization, field trips are something most of us can do together. The

Plan B: A Beautiful and Impactful Day

There are some days that just do not go as planned.  Tuesday was one of those days. The day started out as expected.  I met up with our pastor and he drove us out to the community.  As we chugged along the main road alongside the community, we periodically stuck our heads and hands out the windows to wave and greet friends who were passing by.  We ground our way up the rocky hill and parked next to the church. The training meeting was already in session.  Pastors and leaders from the northern region were reflecting on a passage from scripture and sharing personal stories of God's presence in the midst of health crises.  Through sobs and tears, one pastor recounted the recent times in which her husband was gravely ill and God intervened.  Her husband's faith astounds her. The tables were set end to end and covered with colorful cloths.  A candle burned in the center.  Vases of pink silk flowers were surrounded by open Bibles, notebooks, water bottles and purses.  The twent

Tales of the Grandfather: Our Own Forests

The Grandfather quietly slipped into a pew a few rows back.  I glanced over my shoulder and gave a little wave.  He slipped the baseball cap off of his head, grinned, and waved back.  We refocused on singing. A little while later the devotional ended, and I made my way over to the Grandfather.  " Hola, Papá!"  "Hola mi hija," he said.  We shared a good strong hug. A small conversation circle lamented the suffering which the world is currently experiencing at the hands of Mother Nature.  The Grandfather said... Each one of us must take care of our own forest.  Do you understand what I mean?  People grab and grab and grab for themselves (he gestures like he is grabbing fruit from trees and stuffing it into his mouth and his pockets).  All of the little trees around them are skinny and drying up, while they have this big thing around the middle (a fat belly).  Pastors are afraid to say these harsh words, because many of them are busy getting fat.   These are th

Earthquakes and the Story of the Ugly Baby

We were sitting around the table last night, sharing a lovely pupusa dinner with some friends and their family.  It had been a pretty long day.  Each of us had gotten up early for various appointments after suffering from a  lack of sleep the previous night.  A large 8.1 earthquake centered off of the coast of Chiapas, Mexico, shook Central America all along the fault line. At just before 11 PM, San Salvador's buildings rattled and creaked for more than one full minute.  It was an odd sensation, with a few seconds of shaking and then a prolonged sensation of swaying in a boat over the waves.  MARN ( Ministerio de Ambiente y Recursos Naturales - Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources)  was quick on social media to identify the source of the quake, and those of us online at the time posted "Did you feel that?" and " aguado" (like water) and   "everyone's OK," recognizing that in Mexico, not everyone would be OK.   El Salvador has a recent h

Leave the Door Open

I leave the office door open.  The office is a narrow room with a slightly hidden door off of a dark outdoor corridor.  No one really thinks to knock if the door is closed, even though I have taped a foam heart on the door that says "welcome" in three languages.  It's a surprisingly quiet space.  It receives the afternoon sun, which gives it a stuffy, oven-like quality that lasts into the next morning.  The slatted windows let in just enough car exhaust and kicked up dust from the parking area to give everything in the office a slightly gray patina. I leave the office door open.  An open door invites people in.  An open door says that the person inside has time for you. People wonder what I do in El Salvador.  I sometimes wonder about that too.  Today was my second day back in the office.  I start each day by wiping off the desks and lighting a candle.  This could be viewed as a spiritual practice.  The candle is big and smells of citronella, so honestly it is more